Giolito gets in 'nice groove' after recent struggles

June 28th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- The version of Lucas Giolito on the mound during a 4-3 Angels victory over the White Sox on Monday night at Angel Stadium more closely resembled the Giolito of no-hitter and Opening Day starts past.

Giolito made his first quality start since June 5 at the Rays, having allowed 19 runs on 24 hits in his last 15 innings covering trips to the mound against the Rangers, Astros and Blue Jays. Giolito struck out six and allowed two earned runs while leaving with a 3-2 lead after six innings.

“It was some of the mechanical stuff I was doing a lot better,” said Giolito, who walked one and gave up six hits over 90 pitches, while recording 14 swings and misses, per Statcast. “Still a lot of work to be done. Feeling a little funky in certain parts of the game, but I feel like I got into a nice groove the last couple of innings. It felt very natural out of my windup and I was able to get some good 1-2-3 innings.”

“If he’s got it early, he fights it to the end. If he struggles early, he’s going to be there to the end,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s just amazing. Can’t give him enough credit and he just does what he does … Such a stallion, man.”

Giolito's 10-pitch fifth inning became the perfect example of his good mound feeling. Facing the top of the order, Giolito retired Taylor Ward on a ground ball to shortstop Tim Anderson and then struck out Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

In the Trout at-bat, Giolito evened the count at 1-1 with a called strike on a 93.3 mph four-seamer, per Statcast. He then recorded two swinging strikes off his changeup. Ohtani took called strikes on a changeup and 93.6 mph fastball, before swinging through a perfectly located slider down and in.

“[Catcher] Seby [Zavala] was doing a really, really good job with sequencing, kind of working with a lot of misses, playing misses into a good selection for the pitch following and then the pitch following,” Giolito said. “Once I got into a better groove those last couple of innings and I was executing to where we wanted those pitches, it was easier to put those guys away and have the nice rhythm.”

Los Angeles’ two runs off Giolito came in the second when Brandon Marsh pulled a two-out pitch toward right gloved by Gavin Sheets on the run, but the ball came out of his mitt and hit the wall, allowing Jared Walsh to score from first. The original call was a home run for Marsh, but a crew chief review showed the ball never left the park, and Marsh was sent back to third with just one run scored. Andrew Velazquez singled off Giolito to bring home the second run.

“Felt like I had a good jump. I thought I had it,” said Sheets, who had two hits and scored one run. “I hit the wall and checked the glove and still thought I had it, and obviously found it was over on the side and got it in as quick as I could. It’s frustrating.

“Obviously a ball that’s a tough play, one that I wanted and thought I had. When you’ve got Gio on the mound, you know runs are tough to come by for the other team and you want to make a play for him in that situation.”

Run-scoring doubles from Andrew Vaughn and José Abreu off Noah Syndergaard tied the game in the sixth, and Josh Harrison’s single put the White Sox ahead at 3-2 in the seventh. That lead would not hold, as Reynaldo López (4-2) allowed Ward’s game-winning two-run double in the bottom half of the frame.

Monday’s loss dropped the White Sox (34-38) to 6 1/2 game behind the Twins in the American League Central. There are 90 games remaining on the schedule, including 19 straight within the division starting next Monday, but La Russa’s crew can’t afford to fall into too much deeper of a deficit. They need to build to something greater, as Giolito did against the Angels.

“We’ve been hovering at .500 or just below .500 for a while,” Giolito said. “It’s important we come prepared to win every day. I feel like we are all trying here. But trying doesn’t necessarily get the job done. You have to go and do it.

“When we play our best, we are loose. We are free, we are having fun. And so, I think that we need to … just have that relaxed, free state going so we can build its rhythm as a squad. And the goal is to go out and win series, series, series and put us right back where we need to be."